When to prune a blueberry bush – how to keep your fruit tree at its best

For maximum growth and a healthy plant, explore our step by step guide on when to prune a blueberry bush

When to prune a blueberry bush. Green blueberry bush with blueberries.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A blueberry bush is a wonderful addition to a garden, adding color and cultivation to your outdoor space – and the more you prune your blueberry bush the better it will become.

In order to maintain a healthy plant and a plentiful harvest of blueberries, pruning your blueberry bush is essential, and knowing when to do this will ensure for optimum growth. It is also worth learning how to grow blueberries before getting started.

Tom Hilton, gardening expert at National Greenhouse (opens in new tab), says, 'in order to grow a successful blueberry bush to keep you picking off delicious fruits for healthy treats, it’s all in the pruning to keep it alive and thriving.'

When to prune a blueberry bush – for maximum growth and a healthy plant

Green blueberry bush showing the different stages of a blueberry.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

For top tips and expert advice on when to prune a blueberry bush, consult our step by step guide below.

1. Assess the growth

It may sound simple, but looking at your plant and properly assessing if it needs to be pruned is where you should start.

If there are any parts of the plant that are dry, 'twiggy' or weak, prune these back so you are left with the healthy, fresh growth.

Tom Hilton states, 'make sure to remove any broken, weakened, damaged and very old canes to help with the renewal process.  The best kind of blueberries are grown on two to four year old canes, ones that are older than this can be substantially weaker, resulting in unimpressive, smaller blueberries.' 

By cutting back your plant and having only the healthiest and strongest branches, you can boost the growth of your blueberry bush.

2. The best time to prune

The best time to prune a blueberry bush is before it buds, which is usually towards the end of winter into the beginning of spring. 

Plant expert, Melvin Cuban from PlantIn (opens in new tab) states, 'pruning blueberries must synchronize with their growth cycle to achieve the best results. The best time to prune blueberry bushes is during its dormancy period in late winter or early spring before new buds pop out.'

Before pruning, ensure that any long, cold spells of winter weather have fully passed, you can then properly assess your plant and prune back any affected, dead sections, ready for a healthy growth in the spring.

3. Regular cuttings

As discussed, your blueberry bush needs to be annually pruned after winter, however, regular cuttings will also help to maintain a healthy plant.

Melvin Cuban states, 'reduction cuts of some unhealthy, sickly branches ensures good growth and can maximize the quality and quantity of the fruits'.

One to thing to look out for is if your blueberry bush seems overcrowded, as this will affect the speed of growth. There should be a mix of around half and half old and new branches in your blueberry bush, with around eight branches altogether. Making sure that there are no crossed or overcrowded branches of different lengths will allow the plant the space it needs to grow.

Are you supposed to cut back blueberry bushes?

Green blueberry bush with blueberries.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Blueberry bushes are very resilient plants and benefit greatly from regular pruning.  

As long as you are properly assessing the growth and cutting back only dead, damaged and unhealthy sections of the plant, your blueberry bush will grow to be strong, healthy and long-lasting.

Blueberry expert, Troy Wojtaszek (opens in new tab) says, 'it sounds scary to be pruning so much out, but that's normal so don't be afraid. Blueberry bushes are very hardy plants, the more you do it, the better you'll get at it and the plant will thank you for it with bigger and better blueberries for years and years to come.'

Do blueberries fruit on old or new wood?

Blueberries grow on old wood, with the best fruits growing on twigs that are around two years old. 

When you're pruning your blueberry bush ensure to find the perfect balance of leaving a mix of old and new growth - only removing the parts of the plant that are overcrowded, dead or diseased.

Zara joined Homes & Gardens in February 2022 as a Content Editor. After studying English Literature at University, she worked as an Ecommerce Website Editor, Content Writer and Buying Intern at multiple independent businesses within the luxury retail and lifestyle sectors. Her role at Homes & Gardens unites her love, experience and passion for the world of design and desire to create inspiring written content. She enjoys nothing more than discovering new trends, brands and products, whether that be in fashion, interior design or lifestyle.